On his best day, Peter Lorre's Dr. Gogol has at least one foot in la-la land. A refined madman, he's got Lorre's soft, soothing voice and self-effacing manner. Gogol is, however, equally likely to slip into hysterics at the drop of a hat.
Just a laboratory and a dream...and a lot of disemboweling. Udo Kier's Baron Frankenstein is a mad scientist by way of a porn film. Frankenstein, as portrayed by Kier, is the crazed cousin of Shelley's anti-hero, godfather to the grown-up children of "Spider Baby" (1967).
It's ridiculous but totally worth seeing to get a sense of the generally cheerful lunacy that seems to guide a lot of pre-code films. "Murder at the Vanities" is a clown car of bat-shittery, with one misbegotten scenario after another tumbling out.
#2 You probably don't spend as much time as I do thinking about how amazing Robert Ryan is, but you might, if you watched this movie. One of Ryan's specialities is a barely suppressed rage that's constantly in danger of erupting into violence.
Although the "message" of "The House on Trubnaya" (1928) (aka "The House on Trubnaya Square" aka "The House on Trubnaya Street") is, predictably, that the Soviet state is just super, the film does not throw its hands up in the air, in classic Russian fatalism. "The House on Trubnaya" is a hoot.
The clothes are, well, you can see the pictures. Unfortunately, although the fashion-forward Aelita may be a queen, she is not the ruler, as Tuskub (Konstantin Eggert), the ruler, likes to remind her. People on Mars are very frowny, if the two of them are anything to go by.
One of the great pleasures of blogathons is discovering an actor or director and realizing that there's still so many wonderful classic films yet to see. It's sort of like knowing that there's still a bunch of Graham Greene novels I haven't read. Maybe the Graham Greene thing is just me.
As a representation of colonial Sierra Leone, where the whole story takes place, it isn't especially illuminating...except of course for the marked absence of black characters or local events impinging on the plot in any way. If you're not much interested in colonialism, it's a wonderful film.